24 January 2022

Merrill Lynch executive sacked after racist tirade at staff in Connecticut smoothie shop

24 January 2022

A Merrill Lynch financial adviser from Connecticut has been given his marching orders from the firm after a video of him launching a racist tirade in a smoothie shop and hurling a drink at a teenage employee went viral and saw him arrested.

James Iannazzo, 48, was charged with a hate crime following the shocking scene at Robeks in Fairfield just before 2:30 pm last Saturday, the Fairfield Police Department said.

The incident occured after Iannazzo returned to the store having earlier ordered a smoothie that supposedly contained peanuts, which caused his highly allergic son to have a reaction and require hospitalization, authorities said.

Demanding to know who had made the drink, he was unsatisfied when told that the employees on shift didn’t know, calling them “f****** stupid, f******* ignorant high school kids”.

Turning his attention to a teenage female employee, he called her “f****** b***,” and hurled a drink at her which struck her shoulder.

Continuing his abuse on the startled teen, he allegedly called her a “f****** immigrant.”

Video captured by another employee of the incident was shared on Twitter and had been viewed more than 2.6 million times by early Monday, including by the investment management company that he worked for.

“Our company does not tolerate behavior of this kind. We immediately investigated and have taken action. This individual is no longer employed at our firm,” a statement issued by Merrill Lynch said.

Iannazzo, who turned himself into authorities after the incident, issued a statement of his own today, saying that he made the “regrettable comments” after his 17-year-old son went into “life threatening anaphylactic shock”.

Despite claiming that he had told the smoothie shop about the allergy, employees reportedly told the police that the father had just asked for no peanut butter.

“After he started to drink his smoothie, my son lost the capacity to breathe properly; his lips and face swelled up, and he required an EpiPen shot, but it did not offer him relief. I called 911,” Iannazzo said in the statement.

“My son then went to the bathroom, threw up and fell unconscious to the floor. He threw up again. My wife gave him another EpiPen while I called 911 again.”

Describing himself as “out of my mind with fear for him” when he returned to the store, he conceded that his actions were “wrong and I deeply regret them”.

“They do not reflect my values or my character. I feel terrible that I lost my composure so completely,” he continued.

“I wish I had not done so. I also wish they had been more careful preparing my son’s beverage. I will be extending my apologies personally to the Robek’s organization, particularly the staff that was working there that night.”

Giving an update on his son’s condition, he said that the teen was “doing okay” after being treated in hospital.

Iannazzo was charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace and criminal trespass.

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